What exactly is ‘N’ in cell culture and animal experiments?
Publication Date
April 04, 2018
Authors
Stanley E. Lazic, Charlie J. Clarke Williams & Marcus R. Munafò
Volume
16
Issue
4
Pages
e2005282
DOI
https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2005282
Publisher URL
http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.2005282
Scopus
85046350458
Mendeley
http://www.mendeley.com/research/exactly-n-cell-culture-animal-experiments
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Mendeley | Further Information

{"title"=>"What exactly is ‘N’ in cell culture and animal experiments?", "type"=>"journal", "authors"=>[{"first_name"=>"Stanley E.", "last_name"=>"Lazic"}, {"first_name"=>"Charlie J.", "last_name"=>"Clarke-Williams"}, {"first_name"=>"Marcus R.", "last_name"=>"Munafò"}], "year"=>2018, "source"=>"PLOS Biology", "identifiers"=>{"pui"=>"621967115", "pmid"=>"17420288", "doi"=>"10.1371/journal.pbio.2005282", "issn"=>"1545-7885", "scopus"=>"2-s2.0-85046350458", "arxiv"=>"Error bars in experimental biology", "sgr"=>"85046350458", "isbn"=>"0021-9525"}, "id"=>"2a81e0ca-6310-3b6d-af6c-46f74d562292", "abstract"=>"Biologists establish the existence of experimental effects by applying treatments or interventions to biological entities or units, such as people, animals, slice preparations, or cells. When done appropriately, independent replication of the entity-intervention pair contributes to the sample size (N) and forms the basis of statistical inference. However, sometimes the appropriate entity-intervention pair may not be obvious, and the wrong choice can make an experiment worthless. We surveyed a random sample of published animal experiments from 2011 to 2016 where interventions were applied to parents but effects examined in the offspring, as regulatory authorities have provided clear guidelines on replication with such designs. We found that only 22% of studies (95% CI = 17% to 29%) replicated the correct entity-intervention pair and thus made valid statistical inferences. Approximately half of the studies (46%, 95% CI = 38% to 53%) had pseudoreplication while 32% (95% CI = 26% to 39%) provided insufficient information to make a judgement. Pseudoreplication artificially inflates the sample size, leading to more false positive results and inflating the apparent evidence supporting a scientific claim. It is hard for science to advance when so many experiments are poorly designed and analysed. We argue that distinguishing between biological units, experimental units, and observational units clarifies where replication should occur, describe the criteria for genuine replication, and provide guidelines for designing and analysing in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo experiments.", "link"=>"http://www.mendeley.com/research/exactly-n-cell-culture-animal-experiments", "reader_count"=>93, "reader_count_by_academic_status"=>{"Unspecified"=>3, "Professor > Associate Professor"=>4, "Researcher"=>36, "Student > Doctoral Student"=>2, "Student > Ph. D. Student"=>12, "Student > Postgraduate"=>5, "Student > Master"=>12, "Other"=>5, "Student > Bachelor"=>10, "Lecturer"=>1, "Lecturer > Senior Lecturer"=>1, "Professor"=>2}, "reader_count_by_user_role"=>{"Unspecified"=>3, "Professor > Associate Professor"=>4, "Researcher"=>36, "Student > Doctoral Student"=>2, "Student > Ph. D. Student"=>12, "Student > Postgraduate"=>5, "Student > Master"=>12, "Other"=>5, "Student > Bachelor"=>10, "Lecturer"=>1, "Lecturer > Senior Lecturer"=>1, "Professor"=>2}, "reader_count_by_subject_area"=>{"Unspecified"=>4, "Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>36, "Chemical Engineering"=>1, "Chemistry"=>2, "Computer Science"=>2, "Engineering"=>1, "Environmental Science"=>4, "Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>18, "Medicine and Dentistry"=>6, "Neuroscience"=>4, "Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science"=>2, "Physics and Astronomy"=>3, "Psychology"=>2, "Immunology and Microbiology"=>7, "Mathematics"=>1}, "reader_count_by_subdiscipline"=>{"Medicine and Dentistry"=>{"Medicine and Dentistry"=>6}, "Physics and Astronomy"=>{"Physics and Astronomy"=>3}, "Psychology"=>{"Psychology"=>2}, "Mathematics"=>{"Mathematics"=>1}, "Unspecified"=>{"Unspecified"=>4}, "Environmental Science"=>{"Environmental Science"=>4}, "Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science"=>{"Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science"=>2}, "Chemical Engineering"=>{"Chemical Engineering"=>1}, "Engineering"=>{"Engineering"=>1}, "Chemistry"=>{"Chemistry"=>2}, "Neuroscience"=>{"Neuroscience"=>4}, "Immunology and Microbiology"=>{"Immunology and Microbiology"=>7}, "Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>{"Agricultural and Biological Sciences"=>36}, "Computer Science"=>{"Computer Science"=>2}, "Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>{"Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology"=>18}}, "group_count"=>0}

Scopus | Further Information

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